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This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner

That night at the studio they finished early. There were no taxis, so he walked. He didn’t know what time it was but thought it must be after two. The café was still open, hollow as a Hopper painting behind the empty bus shelter. Philip passed on the other side of the street, too far away to determine the sex of a couple of white-faced students who were sitting at a corner table under the neon sign, not talking to each other. He plugged on up the rise towards the housing commission flats. By the time he passed the first block he was singing to himself, some old Stevie Winwood song with a riff that made him think of that small figure, arms outspread, hovering like a mosquito between banks of keyboards.

There were people against the railings of the carpark. Six, or eight. His skin stood up. It was dark. He made air go in, and out, and kept walking. They stood quietly and let him pass. He waited for the thump in the back, in the neck, the foot stuck out to trip. He wanted something to happen, left right left right come on. ‘Hey, you.’ He propped and spun round. The briefcase swung out from his side.

One of the meanings of "hollow" is "without value, or not true or sincere"

Can we interpret the meaning of "Hollow" in this passage as "meaningless and deceptive"?

I looked at Hopper's paintings and I found they reflect sad feelings. Can we interpret the meaning of "hollow" in the sentence "The café was still open, hollow as a Hopper painting behind the empty bus shelter" as "sad and deceptive"?

Can the sentences "He waited for the thump in the back, in the neck, the foot stuck out to trip. He wanted something to happen, left right left right come on" be understood as

He expected the thump in the back, in the neck, and the foot of one of them stuck out to trip. He liked something to happen, he look at his left and his right several time and wanted something to happen.

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    Army marching songs commonly have "left, right, left, right," in them. I think the "left, right, left, right" is illustrating how he kept walking, and probably how he paid a lot more attention to how he walked than normally. – Peter Shor Apr 24 at 16:14
  • Thank you. Am I right in understanding the other parts? I should say "he expected his foot stuck out to trip" or " he expected the foot of one of them stuck out to trip him"? – Viser Hashemi Apr 24 at 16:43
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The "Hopper cafe" refers to this painting:

enter image description here

The little spot of bright in a dark night could be warm and cosy, but most people see this picture as showing emptiness and loneliness. The people aren't interacting and they just seem surrounded by empty space. The cafe is hollow. Your quote alludes to this as a way to quickly describe the cafe being walked by. Someone who knows the picture will not imagine the walker wanting to go into that cafe, or feeling drawn to it. It's possible you could call this sad; I certainly wouldn't call it deceptive.

The second paragraph tells us the walker is scared, with goosebumps and having to concentrate on deliberately breathing. He is sure they are going to attack him: a clump of 6 or 8 people hanging around at that time of night. He thinks perhaps someone will thump (punch) him, or trip him. He expects it. He doesn't want to be mugged and beaten, he won't like it if it happens, but he thinks it will because he has come across this group who he feels are up to no good. And if it starts to happen, well that's better than continuing to wait for it to happen. When someone calls out to him he reacts in that jumpy unrestrained way people do when they are scared and something is starting to happen. Again, nothing here is deceptive, and it's not sad either unless you find it sad that the walker is suspicious of this group of people hanging around a parking lot in the middle of night.

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